Castelnau de Montmiral is a magnificent 13th century bastide (fortified town) perched on a hilltop with views over the fields and vineyards of the Vere valley, in the Tarn region. Castelnau was chosen by the government in 1991 as one of the most beautiful villages in all of France, and it was among the villages on the route of the Tour de France in 2011.
The area surrounding Castelnau de Montmiral is rich in cultural, gastronomic, and outdoors offerings. The village is in the heart of the Gaillac wine region, which has been producing excellent wines for more than 1000 years. There are dozens of wineries in the countryside offering degustation (tastings).
The town of Gaillac is just 13 kilometers (eight miles) away, with its Musee des Beaux Arts, natural history museum, and tenth-century Abbaye St. Michel, on the banks of the Tarn River. Gaillac hosts a large, colorful market every Friday morning. The city of Albi is less than half an hour away, with its elegant squares, many cafes and the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum and the impressive Cathedrale de Ste. Cecile.
The village of St. Antonin Noble-Val is half an hour north of Castelnau, overlooking a gorge with the Aveyron river below. This is home to a popular Sunday morning market, as well as hiking, canoeing and kayaking trips and good fishing opportunities.
There is also a lively performing arts scene in Gaillac, Castlenau and the surrounding bastide towns, with theater performances, jazz, and classical music festivals throughout the spring and summer months.
The area offers many outdoor diversions as well - hiking in the adjacent Gresigne forest, and swimming, boating and fishing in the lake at the Base de Loisirs, just two kilometers from Castelnau. The country roads around the village are excellent for cycling and running (bicycles can be rented in Gaillac) and there are facilities for golf, tennis and horseback riding nearby.